Friday, 2 August 2013


It was the worst of service and the best of service. I approached the counter of a bookstore in Winnipeg. It was a Saturday afternoon, busyish. I was not in line. When a man appeared more concerned with a stack of papers than me, I interrupted him. "I'm working on these papers," he said to me, with a jab of his head down the counter, where others were working at tills. "And I'm trying to spend money in your store," I said, making sure he read my annoyance. He rushed me to the woman at the till, with a "She'll be glad to help you." And she was. She right away knew how to find what I wanted: Calvino's Invisible Cities, which I'd been praising to my son Tom. She led me straight to it, noting over her shoulder that in fact the Calvino was a Staff Pick this week. "Whose?" I asked. Mine," she said, with a flash of a smile and her black hair (about which, another time, I'll say more). It wasn't the edition I'm used to, but a few days later, from a Vancouver coffee shop close to where he's thinking of moving, Tom sent me this photo:

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